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Apple’s AI Leap: Triumphs and Tribulations

TL;DR: At WWDC, Apple unveiled AI-powered features for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. However, most iPhone users will be left behind due to hardware limitations. Tim Cook admitted AI isn’t perfect, while Apple introduced Private Cloud Compute for secure data processing. The company also blocked PC emulation on the App Store.

WWDC Unveils iPhone and iOS Updates

Apple took the lead at the annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), with artificial intelligence (AI) as the main attraction. The company also showcased new versions of its operating systems, set to be released in September. These updates will power the upcoming iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro handsets, bringing new accessibility tools:

  • Eye Tracking: Control iPhone with just your eyes
  • Music Haptics: Sync iPhone Taptic Engine with song rhythms for the deaf or hard of hearing
  • Vocal Shortcuts: Record sounds to trigger specific iPhone actions for those with severe atypical speech

Apple Intelligence: A Double-Edged Sword

The highlight of the event was Apple Intelligence, the company’s branded AI solution. While Tim Cook believes it will save users time, he admitted to Apple’s concerns over AI in an interview with the Washington Post:

“It’s not 100 percent. But I think we have done everything that we know to do, including thinking very deeply about the readiness of the technology in the areas that we’re using it in. So I am confident it will be very high quality. But I’d say in all honesty that’s short of 100 percent. I would never claim that it’s 100 percent.”

iPhone Users Left Behind

Apple’s AI software has two main requirements for running on iPhones:

  1. iOS 18 (available in late Q3, compatible with iPhones back to iPhone XR)
  2. A17 Pro chipset or higher

This effectively excludes all current iPhones except for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy, explained:

“The core foundational models behind these experiences require a huge amount of compute. It’s the amount of computer that they require that actually provides that limitation.”

iPad and MacBook Fare Better

The situation is less confusing for iPad and Mac platforms. Any hardware running Apple Silicon Mxx series will be able to access AI features, including:

  • Several iPad Air and iPad Pro models
  • Every Mac going back to 2020’s MacBook Air

Private Cloud Compute: Apple’s AI Server

Perhaps the most significant announcement at WWDC was Private Cloud Compute, Apple’s solution for processing user data in the cloud while maintaining privacy. The server code will be publicly accessible for independent experts to verify Apple’s privacy promise.

Game Mode: A New iPhone Gaming Experience

Apple continues to push iOS as a gaming platform, introducing Game Mode in iOS 18. When your phone recognizes a demanding game, it will:

  1. Minimize background activity for consistent high frame rates
  2. Massively reduce latency with Bluetooth game controllers
  3. Reduce latency when using AirPods for audio

iPad’s Long-Awaited Addition

After fourteen years, the iPad software suite is finally complete with the addition of a calculator in iPadOS. The app supports Apple Pencil, allowing users to write down math problems for the app to solve using a feature called Math Notes.

Apple Blocks PC Emulation

While retro gaming system emulation is now allowed in Apple’s App Store, emulating a retro PC system is still blocked. Developers of the Open Source app, UTM, will not challenge the ruling, partly due to Apple’s refusal to allow JIT on iOS. Surprisingly, Apple is also blocking the app from appearing in third-party app stores.

The journey continues.


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